With all the bad things people can say about warlords it is very easy to forgot about some of things that the expansion did well. You can complain about no dailies, no reason to do dungeons after release which valor and it associated gear could have cured early on, no flight at release, ashran not living up to what some people expected and I could go on and on with more, very reasonable, complaints we have heard. Because of things like those ones I mentioned it is a fairly safe assumption warlords is near the bottom of more than a fair amount of peoples lists, but that does not mean that warlords did not do a few things right.
In the third of a series of posts addressing the things they did right,
and only those things, I want to take a look at the boss progression in raids,
which in my opinion, was done fairly well this expansion.
Warlords made their raid progression design better this expansion in my opinion.
There might be a lot of things we can pick apart with raids like the fact smaller groups still have a much harder time than larger ones or if you are from the school of thought that believes 20 man only mythic destroyed the average guild but this is not about either of those things or other things that we might find questionable about their raid design. It is about the one thing I think, hands down, was done well for raiding in warlords, and that is non-linear progression.
Right from the start we were given options about how we would tackle the raids. After the first boss in highmaul we saw that this raid offered us options, once that you could choose how to progress. Was your group a powerful damage dealing group but not always the best as special duty detail and avoiding the avoidable? Go for the Butcher. Was your group top notch with special duties, then perhaps Brackenspore might be a better way to progresses. Maybe your group was excellent at avoiding damage but not so much with huge numbers or spot on special duties, than maybe Tectus ha your name written all over him.
Sure you would need to beat all the bosses eventually, but with options like this it allowed your group to play to their strengths and get some gear from the bosses that played to their strengths. My group was always good at throwing up some large numbers so butcher was a breeze for us, no problem at all, while my friends group which was more a mechanics based group went after tectus first. They had not problem with him but lots of trouble with butcher while we were the other way around, it took us more than a couple of wipes to down tectus but butcher was a one shot even early on.
A design like that made for an excellent way for each group to design their own progression path. When the second raid came out blizzard did something they rarely do. They kept rolling with a good idea. Usually the best ideas get thrown to the side and forgotten about, think ulduar raid design for a prime example of that. But blizzard kept up with the choose your own progression path.
While my guild went to Gruul first because we are a DPS heavy group, when we started downing bosses on a regular basis we decided that going to the Hans and Franz wing first was the better idea. The three bosses in that wing, at least for our make up, were the easiest over all, on top of that, that wing offered 2 chances at tier pieces. Other groups might have went the beast lord wing first while still others might have done the Gruul one. For us, as blast furnace was really giving us trouble, even with Gruul and Oregorger being easy, we always saved that for last.
The wings worked well in that sense as people could go with whichever one fits their groups strengths, or they worked so that a starting guild could pick off the first boss of each wing just to get some easy ones out of the way to get more gear for the second bosses of each wing. It was, in a word, a very solid design.
To add to the wing design and choose who you wish to kill was the quests they added that once you killed the end boss of each wing 4 times in any particular difficulty you could, if you so decided, go directly to the last boss in that difficulty. This effectively meant that you had full choice in the raid, shoot for the wing you wanted to do, or just go in and kick the big baddies butt and leave. You decide for your own guilds progression. Play for kills, play for progression, or play for just going after the bosses that had the loot your group needed to move forward another day. It gave you choices.
When Hellfire came out you might have thought those options were gone, and to some extent they did seem lesser, but they were not gone. The first two bosses were the first two bosses, there was nothing you could do about that, but you did have a minor choice after that. Go to the super super easy Hellfire Loot Council, or the slightly harder but still entry level Kormrock depending on your groups strengths and weaknesses.
Keeping with the quest to move further design they had in blackrock they added a quest for Gorefiend were if you killed him 4 times you can just warp past him to the upper level. Although he worked as the old school gate, and a quite difficult one for some groups, where you needed to kill boss A to get to boss B it wasn't just that. Once you killed him enough you could warp past him as I said, but it also was not an A to B thing, it was kill A to get to B, C, D or E. Another choice in how you wanted to progress.
You could go to the "this is what addons were made for" Iskar, or to Socrethar and his Mr Roboto so we could kill him for the 4th time, or was it 5th, or you could go to the Fel Lord Zakuun and save Grom when we really should have been killing Grom too, or you could have went to the hardest of the four in Xhul. You could easily play to the strengths of your group.
Once you picked and choose your way around the upper citadel there was one more boss to kill before moving forward and start working on your second quest boss. One were if you killed it 4 times you could jump right too him, not past him like Gorefiend but too him. Either way it gave you yet another way to choose what you wanted to do when you came in to raid.
Do you just want to go to the end and kill the last 2? Do you want to do the beginning and gear some people up on alts or maybe get those pieces you still have not been lucky enough to see drop (looking at you blademaster)? Do you want to do the upper and get those bosses you probably have killed the least, maybe a pet to sell from Iskar, or a tier piece from Soc or Zhul, or a trinket in my case from Tyrant? It is all your choice, you could choose your own progression.
There are a lot of things I could nit pick about when it comes to raiding like the things I mentioned at the start or the random upgrades from warforged or gem slotted gear, but I can never complain about the very good job they did giving us options for our raiding progression this expansion. Each and every raid had options. Maybe you liked them, maybe you didn't, but I personally believe this was a step in the right direction for raid design and I really do hope they keep up with it.